Hardware Disk Encryption for the Masses, Finally!

PC security is a tough nut to crack. this is especially so if, like Turbo, you work in an environment which needs highly secure PC’s and laptops which can be safely lost!

Turbo has been saying amongst peers for more than a year, that an excellent way to maintain the Integrity of transient data on the machine is Hardware Encryption. It’s such an obvious step: Software encryption will always leave you with that nagging doubt.

Not long after saying this, I found a product from Thales eSecurity called GuardDisk. This UK govt approved box of tricks is a modified disk with a RFID token.

The idea is that as the machine (Laptop) Boots, you stick the token near the lappy. The disk drive reads the ID and the DEK from the token and all is well. The Disk does block encryption/decryption on the fly. Transparent to the machine so run any OS you like. Yes, any.

At a few hundred pounds a pop these are not yet cost effective for everyone though. Worry not: help is at hand. As if the Thales box was not cool enough, similar technology may soon find it’s way into home user machines for no extra cost.
article on the ABIT site suggests that ABIT are busy putting hardware based IDE disk encryption technology into their standard motherboards.

Now that sounds both smart and interesting. If only all Manufacturers could innovate like this!

Finally we get SCO business comments from the Oracle.

This article from MercuryNews.Com features frank comments by the man we all know and love, Linus Torvalds.

These give a full insight into Linus’ thoughts and give one the distinct feeling that we are not the only sane person left in a mad world: From this article it’s clear there is at least one other!


Linus Torvalds is the creator of the Linux operating system, the open source version of Unix that is sweeping through the software world in a direct challenge to Microsoft. He is a technical leader and an outspoken advocate of open source development, which allows software users to develop and modify their own versions of software for free. He spoke candidly with Mercury News staff writer Dean Takahashi about the lawsuit from SCO Group versus IBM (where Big Blue is accused of illegally putting Unix code into Linux), on Microsoft and open source development. He also shed light on his decision to leave chip maker Transmeta for a Linux corporate software consortium, the Open Source Development Lab. Here is an edited transcript:

Q: The SCO Group has sued IBM for illegally contributing Unix code to Linux. Do you believe this episode reveals any vulnerabilities in the open source movement?

A: Not really. Open source software is very visible. That means it’s very easy to see if there is something wrong. I think that is a good thing. I think the whole point is that, with the kind of transparency you get with open source, people are a lot less likely to ever have intellectual property issues. I compare it to stealing a car. Do you steal a car in the bright daylight with a lot of people around? Or do you steal a car, go for a joyride at 4 am in the morning when there aren’t a lot of people around. With open source, there is a lot of daylight. A lot of people looking at the code. You don’t really go around and steal things.

Q: There was some mention of the origins of Linux being murky.

A: There has been a lot of rumor. It’s more of an allegation. It’s complete crap. Quite the reverse. If you look at murky, it’s SCO’s allegations that are murky. With Linux code, you can see how it’s been developed. You can see who applied patches. You can see when they got applied. It’s all in the open.

Q: They were referring to the original creation of Linux.

A: No, it’s not an issue. Some of the history might be slightly hard to find, but compared to other projects, it’s a lot better documented than any proprietary operating system ever. Most of the stuff that has been on public mailing lists is archived.

Q: How about the history of Unix itself. Is it hard to follow?

A: There was a lawsuit between AT&T and Berkeley. AT&T sued UC Berkeley for copyright infringement because the Berkeley version of Unix was made available openly with the Berkeley license. It took a few years but it was shown that it wasn’t Berkeley that stole code from AT&T but it was AT&T that stole code from Berkeley, removed Berkeley copyrights, and they ended up settling out of court. So there is no judge that has said so officially but it was believed that Berkeley had done nothing wrong. This is the same code at issue. In that case, there was a clear genetic continuation. Now SCO is trying to use the same code that already failed a test once and to apply it to something where there isn’t the same genetic continuation.

Q: For our readers who don’t know the origins of Linux, can you talk about how it was written given the existence of Unix?

A: The origin was all written by me. For the first six months or so I was the only person working on Linux. It took almost a year before there was a major contribution from people outside. It’s all original code since day one.

Q: The SCO Group has said that you haven’t had the highest respect for intellectual property rights. How do you react to that?

A: That’s very normal that you always try to twist the truth in lawsuits. The only part that has been irritating is they make it personal. They are showing my e-mails to the Linux community to the press. They called my approach cavalier because I made a joke in an e-mail. OK. Tough. If they can’t take a joke, that’s their problem. I think it backfired. Most journalists do have a sense of humor. They didn’t mind.

Does it surprise you that Linux is a pawn in a battle between big companies, like IBM and Microsoft?

No. I’m not surprised about lawsuits per se. When there is enough money involved, lawsuits are inevitable. I don’t think that’s anything strange. To a large degree, and a reason I made it open source in the first place, was I was interested in the technical side, and not the legal and commercial side. It’s not a pawn that somebody takes over. That’s one of the points. I find it interesting that people have used it in different ways that I didn’t envision and also that they’re raising issues that I don’t care about.

Q: What do you care about?

A: I still care about the technology and the community. The people putting it together. And I do care about if someone has actually copied stuff into Linux that they don’t have rights to, I’d be upset about that. I care about software rights. Right now I’m taking a leave. From what it looks like, as long as it is contract rights between SCO and IBM, I don’t care at all. IBM can defend themselves. And if IBM ends up having to say OK we did something bad, it’s not my problem.

Q: Microsoft took out a license from SCO. Do you think that was necessary and that the timing seemed strange?

A: It’s not exactly clear what they licensed. Most people see it as a PR move. The enemy of my enemy is my friend. I’m not a lawyer.

Q: Do you worry now that, regardless of who wins the lawsuit, that it will do some damage to the adoption of Linux?

A: What I worry most about is these things tend to drag out. If somebody were to show this is what a judge thinks about this case, I’m fairly confident that Linux is OK. I worry that it will drag out forever.

Q: Can you tell us how Linux evolves?

A: It all boils down to hundreds of different groups. A group can be a huge company that has an agenda. Or it can mean one person at a university working on a research project. They have their own thing they want to fix. All of these people make their modifications, and not all of them are accepted. I see it as a kind of ecosystem. You have survival of the fittest. Some changes work better. Sometimes it is for purely technical reasons. It’s just the right thing to do. Sometimes it is for personality reasons. Some people who push their changes are more likely to get things done because they are nicer about it. It’s not really centralized. I am at the center, but I don’t direct any teams. All these people are trying to pull me in different directions. Some groups pull together in the same direction. It’s a very dynamic situation.

Q: Do you think it works well that you have the final say?

A: I think it works well because I don’t have the final say. I have this final say in my tree. It is special in that a lot of people trust my tree. So some people will not use it if it is not my tree. That is a minority. But most people end up using various appendages. My tree is really not. Yes I have the final say on my tree. There is always this forking but there is always this joining. There is more forking than there is joining. But that just means that there are all these dead branches that not end up not being interesting. My branch is to some degree, you could think of it as the trunk of the tree. People try to join back into my tree.

Q: Competitively, do you think this controlled chaos works against a company like Microsoft?

A: I think it ultimately the only way to do software. I have arguments why. The main one is the complexity issue. It’s very hard for someone who doesn’t work like this to keep control of an increasingly complex source base and increasingly complex user base. If you try to control the process too much, you can go straight to the end point where you want to go. That works well if you know where the end point is. If you don’t know where it is and you can’t control where people want to use your software, it’s a very bad thing to have one branch that is very concentrated on one line of development. The best analogy is biological diversity. You have the Linux approach that is fairly diverse and all over the map. Maybe it is not very efficient. But it works very well in the face of complexity and changing circumstances. Changing circumstances will really show that part of that diversity really works. Biology on the other extreme is a very mono culture, which works very well as long as the circumstances stay the same. To some degree they are seen as very efficient and they can live on for a long time. A perfect case in genetics is sharks. They are very stable but they also don’t evolve anymore. That works, but if you want to go past a certain point, it’s a problem.

Q: That’s what Bill Gates is.

A: That’s a fairly good analogy but sharks is a bad word. I should make up another example. Turtles! Turtles are very stable and have been around forever. But they have problems adapting. When humans came along, turtles came under serious threat. The Dodo too. Biodiversity is good and I think it is good in technology as well. If you look at a lot of stable things, you have a certain amount of biodiversity. Look at cars. The U.S. car industry was sloppy. There wasn’t a lot of biodiversity. There no real competition from true diverse species. The Japanese came in and provided new diversity for the market. It was a huge boon for the car industry, though not so good for certain countries. Cars started improving.

Q: If you look at how Microsoft is now struggling to deal with Linux, what do you think?

A: They are not in trouble. I think they are struggling to deal with Linux partly because Linux is undermining them the same way they undercut their competition. If you look at DOS, or maybe compilers, one thing that happened with Microsoft was that these small upstarts came out and had cheaper compilers. DOS was also cheap and it undercut the competition. They never had a competitor like themselves. Then comes somebody who undercuts them and they start acting exactly how all of their competitors acted. If you look at how Unix vendors acted toward Microsoft, they were belittling Microsoft. They were saying yes we’re more expensive but we’re better and we give better support. Whether that was true or not was not the point. The reaction to somebody coming in and undercutting you is for Microsoft exactly the same as the failure mode for their competitors. Microsoft is on the receiving end of this undercutting.

Q: You have left Transmeta (the Santa Clara maker of low-power microprocessors) where you worked for six years. Now you’ve joined the Open Source Development Lab (which is creating a version of Linux for corporations). Can you explain why you took the leave of absence?

A: It’s a number of reasons. One was for the last six months I was spending a lot of time working on the next 2.6 release of Linux. We’re getting close. But I expect it to take a few more months at least. This happened before with other releases. I don’t like doing releases but we have to do them. Before releases you get into a painful mode. Transmeta has been very good to me. This time I felt I’d have a hard time bouncing back to the Transmeta work. I was feeling more guilty about that. I talked to a lot of people there. They knew how I worked. The OSDL thing came along. I asked about that position when I decided I needed to leave. It was a neutral place. I need to concentrate on Linux. Why not let somebody pay me for that? I can’t go to a Linux vendor like Red Hat because I would no longer be seen as neutral.

Q: With Transmeta, their plan didn’t work out as expected. Did that affect your decision to leave them?

A: A lot of companies share that problem. I don’t know. What made it easier to leave now was that it seems to have stabilized lately. We didn’t have the panic problems we had. That made it easier and I didn’t feel like I was a rat leaving a sinking ship. The fact that it didn’t worked out affected a lot of my co-workers more than it did me. I ended up being able to cash in on my dream. It happened in a strange way. But I got my house in the area. In that sense it didn’t affect me. Because the Transmeta dream didn’t work out, it has less resources to do fundamental research. It has to concentrate on the customers and the products. For me, because I’m interested in the crazy stuff, that made Transmeta maybe not as fun as it was five or six years ago. Five or six years ago we did stuff at Transmeta that universities didn’t do. We did fundamental research. That made Transmeta a very special place.

Q: You want to concentrate on going after one monopoly at a time?

A: (Laughs). I never saw Intel as a monopoly. It has competition. To me personally, Intel has always had a healthier position. A lot of people thought, yeah, he’s always going after the big guys. That wasn’t the point of being at Transmeta. I want to do something that is relevant, and if it is relevant there is always somebody else out there.

Q: Do you see any boundaries for Linux? Do you want to go after Wind River and other companies in the embedded software space?

A: That is a traditional company question. If you’re a company, you want to go after certain markets. The point of open source is there is no such thing as certain markets you go after. It’s more like certain companies use Linux to go after a market. The embedded space has been very receptive to Linux. It’s not like Wind River doesn’t exist, but Linux is growing.

Q: Did it surprise you that IBM, this big giant company, embraced Linux?

A: I always thought IBM was interesting. Early on in 1998 and 1999, a lot of people were going through the motions of embracing Linux. They would mention it in a press release. But IBM always followed through. Because I was never interested in the commercial market, I never found fault with how people used Linux there. I enjoyed that IBM started porting Linux to the S390, found that hugely amusing. I thought, OK, somebody has done a few too many drugs. But it ended up being a master stroke. The people who started it just did it because they found it interesting. It ended up working out really well.

Q: You mentioned you wanted to end up at a neutral space. Do you feel like a religious leader? Or what kind of leader do you see yourself as?

A: I try to avoid that. I think I’ve been fairly successful. Some of the free software people don’t like how I’m not very religious. I try to be pragmatic. People know that. At the same time I have a very high profile and because people trust me and want to continue to trust me and I want people to trust me, I want to make sure that there is nothing that has the appearance of being bad. Going to work for a specific Linux company would, even if I work the way I’ve always worked, it would still look like I was favoring one vendor over another. You can’t avoid it in the environment we’re in.. I want to make sure everyone sees that I’m neutral. They may disagree with me and quite often they do. But at least they know I’m not working for the competition. I may not care about their viewpoint, but they know I do it for my own personal reasons. That makes people a lot more accepting. That makes it easier for me to make decisions. People will accept those decisions more if they understand they are my personal decisions and not because I am trying to screw them over as a competitor. It gives me more authority. That’s the only authority I have. I don’t have legal rights. I have one special right since I started Linux as the owner of the collective copyright. From a license standpoint I don’t have any special rights.

Q: What about cashing in on Linux? Where do you stand on where it is appropriate for you to make money from Linux?

A: I’m cashing in in the sense that I have a good salary. I did get stock options and I accepted them when there were no strings attached. In the good old days there were a few Linux companies that gave me stock options as a thank-you. Nobody thought they would be worth that much when they gave them to me. I bought a house in this area so they were worth a lot. I’m doing OK. I’m not a Larry Ellison. There only needs to be one.

Q: You moved from Finland. How do you like living in Silicon Valley.

A: Some parts I love. I have a convertible. I will never ever move to a place where I can’t drive a convertible. I like the dynamics. Sometimes it’s sad how you go into a random restaurant and all the tables around you talk about technology. At the same time, it is nice to be where you understand the people. Genetically maybe not very homogenous. But perspective wise, it’s a nice place to be. It’s too crowded. It’s too expensive.

Q: And what about the bust?

A: Everybody was expecting it. Everybody was calling it a bubble. The people who now complain about it. They didn’t complain two years ago. What I think is sad is the people who came here two years ago, just as the bust was starting, had jobs for not very long, got laid off, and had to move back. They changed their lives. That’s nasty. I remember it took me four years to get a green card. The people who came in at the wrong time, they had to go back. The social issues there are huge.

Q: Any irony that you might be deposed by (SCO counsel) David Boies, who led the case against Micosoft?

A: I was a bit surprised. I realize that David Boies wasn’t against Microsoft. It’s that he likes high-profile cases against big companies. That’s what he specializes in. In that sense, SCO vs IBM makes sense. It’s a nice twist but it doesn’t mean anything.

That SCO Business does just seem to be a money scam

Trying to make sense of The SCO Group’s threat last week to sue any Linux user who doesn’t buy a Unix license? Forget the threat. Instead, look at the announcement SCO made the following day — the one in which SCO said it’s now in the Web services business thanks to its acquisition of Vultus Inc.

Trying to make sense of The SCO Group’s threat last week to sue any Linux user who doesn’t buy a Unix license? Forget the threat. Instead, look at the announcement SCO made the following day — the one in which SCO said it’s now in the Web services business thanks to its acquisition of Vultus Inc.

And how did SCO buy Vultus? With newly issued SCO stock, of course — stock whose price gets a boost every time the company makes yet another wild claim about who it will sue next.

Actually, the Vultus deal is a lot more complicated than that. You wouldn’t know it from what SCO said last week, but SCO has finally found a way to make money — literally.

No, not from its attempts to sell Unix licenses to Linux vendors and users. Since January, when SCO started trying to get Linux types to cough up some cash, the company has sued IBM, sent threatening letters to nearly 1,500 big companies, tried to revoke IBM’s license to sell Unix and threatened darkly that if someone didn’t start buying Unix licenses soon, it would sue Linus Torvalds. None of that seems to have sold many Unix licenses.

But every time SCO makes a new, wilder set of legal threats, speculators bid up the price of SCO stock – starting in March, with the IBM lawsuit, then in May, when the threatening letters were sent, then again in June, when SCO tried to make IBM users pull the plug, and again last week. SCO’s stock price is now about 10 times what it was six months ago.

Pretty impressive, eh? Especially for a company with no serious hope of getting cash flow from any of these threats for years.

None of the threats make legal sense. If they did, SCO would be able to get an injunction to shut down Linux users. In practice, SCO hasn’t even been able to get an injunction against IBM and won’t get a court hearing on its request to do that until 2005.

Meanwhile, a German court told SCO in June that it must stop threatening Linux users. And an Australian government agency is looking into charges that SCO is essentially running a shakedown racket by claiming that Linux users must buy a license they don’t actually need.

And SCO’s tactics don’t make business sense, either. SCO is a software company that has slashed its R&D budget, alienated its customers and demolished the value of its brand. That’s not the way you build a business.

So, what do you do when you have no real business but your stock price keeps going up? We all learned that lesson during the dot-com bubble: You use that stock as currency.

That brings us back to Vultus, which was majority-owned by The Canopy Group, former Novell boss Ray Noorda’s personal investment fund. And Canopy — surprise! — also controls SCO, as well as some 30 other small companies.

Last week, SCO didn’t disclose much information about the deal. But in fact, the details were already on the record in SCO’s recent filings with the SEC.

It turns out SCO didn’t simply use stock to buy another company. SCO printed up about $3 million in new stock. Then, in the complicated deal in which SCO acquired Vultus, the stock was cashed out, with most of the proceeds going to Canopy.

Some went to Canopy as a Vultus shareholder; the rest went to Canopy as compensation for taking on Vultus’ debt, some of which was presumably owed to Canopy.

Got all that? If it sounds like a shell game, well, that’s the way Canopy likes to move its companies around. But in effect, Canopy used SCO’s stock price, boosted by SCO’s Linux threats, to rake in a couple of million dollars in cash behind the scenes.

And apparently it worked. Which means we can expect that as long as Canopy can find ways of cashing in on SCO’s threats against Linux users, those threats will keep coming — no matter how little sense they make.

Source: Computerworld

IBM Tries to Calm Customers over SCO threat.

IBM is trying to reassure its customers regarding legal threats by The SCO Group Inc., the software company that has accused IBM of distributing code it owns in versions of the free Linux operating system.

Read More.

Lindon, Utah-based SCO has sued IBM for $3 billion, saying the computer maker used parts of its Unix operating system code to enhance the performance of Linux — a freely available operating system that’s increasingly being used to run corporate computer networks.

Earlier this week, SCO said it would offer licenses to companies that are using the version of Linux distributed by IBM, noting that IBM customers would then be protected in using the software without having to go into the courtroom” (see story).

In a memo for IBM sales representatives obtained by Reuters, the company said, “SCO is asking customers to pay money based on pure unsubstantiated threats, without offering any facts.”

The memo told IBM sales representatives, “Remember, we are counting on you to make sure that customers with questions or concerns get the correct facts.”

SCO spokesman Blake Stowell said the memo is a sign that IBM sees SCO’s claims as a viable threat.

“I think they are taking the threat seriously. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be informing their salespeople about that,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of customers suggest they’d be interested in taking out a license.”

IBM, the world’s largest computer company, has rejected SCO’s claims, saying it has not demonstrated that its intellectual property rights have been violated.

SCO’s Unix-based software is used to run corporate tasks such as accounting and manufacturing systems and is licensed by IBM for use in its own version of Unix, known as AIX.

An IBM spokeswoman declined to comment.

Source: Reuters

SCO threats dont have Linux users worried

The SCO Group Inc. may be threatening to sue all businesses using Linux, but users so far appear to be unmoved by the company’s latest legal stance.

Tom Pratt, information systems manager at Coastal Transportation Inc., a shipping company in Seattle, said SCO’s newest threats aren’t a concern because far too many businesses are now using Linux.

Read More…

“I don’t see how they could sue so many [companies] to pony up for a licensing fee,” he said. “They don’t have any kind of tracking [system]. I don’t remember signing anything with SCO saying I owe them any kind of licensing fees.”

Coastal uses Linux as its primary computer operating system to run databases, payroll and other accounting functions, human resources applications, and shipping logistics software, according to Pratt.

“I’m not scared at all,” Pratt said of SCO’s threats. “I don’t think this will have any effect on us at all,” he said.

Kevin Gray, IT operations manager at DreamWorks SKG’s film studio in Glendale, Calif., said he sees SCO’s allegations and posturing as a “big red herring … that’s not going to go very far.”

DreamWorks uses Linux in film production, animation, database servers and more, he said.

“I haven’t read anything that really showed us that … their claims are anything more than just lip service,” Gray said of SCO’s latest legal salvo. “If they have some major victories in the courts, you know, I think we might have to think about it. At this point, we just kind of laughed it off,” he said.

Brad Friedman, vice president of IS at Burlington, N.J.-based clothing and housewares retailer Burlington Coat Factory Warehouse Corp., said SCO’s newest legal front won’t change his company’s strategy, where Linux is currently used to run point-of-sale machines and for in-store transaction processing. Back-end uses for Linux are also being considered, but they haven’t yet been widely deployed, he said.

“It’s not like we should go out and license every single Linux box we have today, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we shouldn’t watch what’s going on,” Friedman said. “I’m not staying up all night over it.”

For Burlington Coat Factory, the SCO situation isn’t the only software question mark dangling over its IT department. Burlington is also an Oracle shop and is in a similar wait-and-see mode to see how Oracle Corp.’s hostile takeover attempt with PeopleSoft Inc. and J.D. Edwards & Co. plays out.

“We still have some time to go on this scenario,” Friedman said. “It’s a different adventure every day. This SCO/Linux thing is far-reaching. It’s just too early for anyone to put a stake in the ground one way or another.”

On July 21, Lindon, Utah-based SCO said it will now pursue lawsuits against any business running Linux if the business doesn’t buy a special SCO UnixWare 7.1.3 license to make its Linux software legal (see story). The prices of the licenses haven’t been announced, but are expected to be comparable to existing SCO UnixWare licenses.

SCO has been going after the Linux marketplace since March, when it sued IBM for allegedly misappropriating trade secrets related to SCO’s Unix products to benefit IBM’s Linux strategy (see story). SCO is now seeking $3 billion from IBM as part of the lawsuit, in which it says it has uncovered hundreds of lines of code in Linux that were allegedly illegally copied straight from SCO’s System V Unix code.

The company has claimed that because of illegal use of its System V code in Linux, its Unix business has been harmed by the rise of Linux in corporate computing.

In May, SCO warned all commercial Linux users that they could be using its code illegally and recommended that they seek legal advice to decide what to do about the issue (see story).

But the IBM lawsuit still hasn’t entered a courtroom, and many Linux users are apparently waiting to see what will happen there before deciding to deal directly with SCO in any kind of licensing arrangement.

Harry Roberts, CIO at Reading, Pa.-based Boscov’s Department Stores LLC, said his company continues to watch the SCO situation. Boscov’s runs both Red Hat Linux and SuSE Linux in its operations.

“What we know is that Linux … is certainly open-source,” Roberts said. “We don’t believe we’re doing anything in violation of our agreements [with Red Hat Inc. and SuSE Linux AG].”

Source: Computerworld

Those Loonies At SCO want a license fee for Linux now!

The gloves are now officially off — all enterprise Linux users have to pay The SCO Group Inc. new licensing fees to use Linux, or they could find themselves on the wrong end of a copyright infringement lawsuit.

Read More….

That was the ultimatum laid out today by SCO CEO and President Darl McBride, who said that the $3 billion lawsuit against IBM in March was apparently just the start of his company’s march to defend itself from what it sees as rampant theft of its Unix System V intellectual property (IP).

“We agree on the point that this case started out as a contracts case against IBM. As of today, it’s a different game,” McBride said today in a conference call with reporters and analysts.

“SCO’s Unix IP has been misappropriated into Linux,” he said. “SCO is giving customers [of any Linux distribution] the opportunity to run Linux legally.”

Back in May, SCO warned all commercial Linux users that they could be using its code illegally and recommended that they seek legal advice to help decide what to do about the issue (see story). Last month, McBride said, some corporate Linux users contacted SCO and said they wanted to find a “way to work it out” so they could continue to use Linux.

“We think this allows both parties’ concerns to be met,” McBride said.

Lindon, Utah-based SCO also announced today that it has now received copyrights for its System V code (see story). The company had never before officially filed for the copyrights, which it needed to do as a procedural step while it pursues its legal case against IBM, McBride said. In that case, SCO alleges that IBM misappropriated trade secrets related to SCO’s Unix products to benefit IBM’s Linux strategy.

The specially tailored SCO UnixWare 7.1.3 licenses will support runtime, binary use of Linux for all commercial users of Linux based on kernel Version 2.4.x and later, according to the company. Buying a license would allow users to comply with SCO’s copyrights, the company said, adding that if enterprise Linux users do so, SCO won’t pursue legal challenges against them related to the code. Pricing hasn’t yet been announced but will be comparable to existing UnixWare licenses, McBride said.

“Today’s announcement is really a new front that we’re opening up” with existing enterprise Linux customers, McBride said. “It gets you clean, it gets you square with Linux without having to go into the courtroom.”

Also involved in today’s call with McBride was SCO’s lead attorney, David Boies, who served as special trial counsel for the U.S. Department of Justice in its antitrust suit against Microsoft Corp.

Boies said the new licensing offer to existing Linux corporate users comes even though the SCO/IBM case hasn’t been decided in any court.

“It is not necessary to resolve the IBM case” to deal with other issues, Boies said. While the case works its way through the court system, Linux corporate users don’t have the right to take advantage of SCO’s IP in Linux, he said, adding, “If the conduct is improper, the conduct is improper.”

Analyst Gordon Haff at Illuminata Inc. in Nashua, N.H., said he sees SCO “going after users because if they go after [Linux vendors such as] Red Hat Inc., those guys are going to have to fight them” to defend their businesses. “They can’t roll over” and pay the demands like corporate users could, he said.

“The end users aren’t going to be so principled here,” Haff said.

George Weiss, an analyst at Gartner Inc. in Stamford, Conn., said that if SCO is successful in squeezing licensing fees out of users, it would essentially create a new tax on Linux, perhaps upsetting the often-favorable total cost of ownership arguments for using it.

“SCO is really applying pressure. It’s gotten very nervous” among users, he said. “They don’t know what to do.”

One part of SCO’s argument, though, is that much of the alleged code infringement is related to the latest symmetric multiprocessor (SMP) capabilities in Linux kernel 2.4 and later, Weiss said. If that’s the case, then SCO’s claims may not affect most enterprise users, who are using Linux more for infrastructure services than SMP.

“SMP is where the impact could be more in the future. [The SCO threats] could slow the advance of Linux” for higher power uses for now, he said. “It could put on hold a lot of planned purchases.”

Source: Computerworld

Linux advocates doubt validity of SCO licensing scheme

Open-source advocates yesterday blasted a Linux licensing scheme that The SCO Group Inc. is proposing to address alleged copyright violations in the Linux operating system.

Read More….

SCO CEO Darl McBride announced the licensing plan on a conference call with press and analysts earlier in the day. “SCO is prepared to offer a license for SCO’s UnixWare 7.1.3 product for use in conjunction with any Linux product,” he said. “This licensing format will assure that Linux users will be able to run Linux in full compliance with SCO’s underlying IP [intellectual property] rights.”

SCO will begin discussing the new licensing scheme with Linux users this week, McBride said, but Linux advocates are already attacking it.

“They’re selling a pig in a poke,” said open-source advocate Bruce Perens. “I think they’ve made an error through overconfidence, and that error has made them liable to be sued by every person who has code in the kernel, and every company.”

Perens and other open-source advocates claim that SCO’s licensing scheme appears to violate the Free Software Foundation’s GNU General Public License (GPL) software license that governs Linux. “It’s very definitely in violation of the GPL,” said Perens, who believes that SCO’s terms would place restrictions on Linux users’ ability to modify and redistribute source code, making it at odds with the GPL. “We do not authorize our code to be used under the terms of the SCO license; it’s very plain in the GPL,” he said.

An independent intellectual property lawyer said Perens’ contention has merit. “On its face, it sounds like that’s a plausible argument,” said Jim LaBarre, a partner at Burns, Doane, Swecker & Mathis LLP, a law firm in Alexandria, Va.

SCO disagreed, saying that its new license, which has yet to be publicly revealed, won’t conflict with the GPL.

The Linux source code has been under attack from SCO for months. In March, the Lindon, Utah-based company sued IBM for $1 billion, claiming that IBM had harmed SCO’s market for Intel-based Unix operating systems by improperly adding code to the Linux kernel, the software program at the center of the Linux operating system. The value of the suit has since risen to $3 billion.

At the time, SCO claimed that its dispute was with IBM and not the Linux community, but it has gradually set its sights on Linux users as well. In May, SCO sent letters to 1,500 companies warning them that they could be held liable for IP violations in Linux, and yesterday SCO’s attorney David Boies, of the firm Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP, said that there was a possibility that SCO could pursue case-by-case litigation against companies that used Linux.

SCO’s McBride declined to say exactly what SCO’s licensing plan would cost, but he said it would be a per-processor license, with volume discounts available for some customers.

The licensing plan would not only be in violation of the GPL, but also completely pointless, according to Free Software Foundation general counsel Eben Moglen. “You don’t need a copyright license from anybody to use any program,” he said. “That’s like saying you need a copyright license to read a newspaper. … If there’s plagiarized material in The New York Times, that doesn’t mean that people who buy The New York Times are liable.”

A copyright license is required to redistribute software, Moglen said, but Linux distributors won’t be able to adopt the SCO license because it would place them in conflict with the GPL, he said.

Linux distributor Red Hat Inc., for one, had no interest in adopting SCO’s license. “We have full confidence in our code, so we don’t feel this license is necessary for anybody,” said Red Hat spokeswoman Leigh Day. “It’s just another tactic in this battle that they’ve waged through the media. It’s just a distraction.”

Talk of licensing SCO’s code is premature, given that the company has yet to publicly identify where the alleged violations of its copyright occur, Linux vendors said.

“SCO has not shown us any code contributed to Linux by IBM which violates SCO copyrights,” said IBM spokeswoman Trink Guarino. “SCO needs to openly show the Linux community any copyrighted Unix code which they claim is in Linux. SCO seems to be asking customers to pay for a license based on allegations, not facts.”

SCO also announced yesterday that it had received U.S. copyright registration for its Unix source code, a move that observers say is a necessary precursor to any copyright-based litigation.

source:IDG News Service


You May not realise it yet, but the world of thin, flat displays is changing.

Certainly resolutions get higher all the time and there are new technologies around the corner.

Get ready for the next quantum leap though: Electronic Paper.


Okay, okay, it may not sound amazing but this is pretty cool stuff: Imagine anything that is presently printed on paper could be replaced with a soft equivalent.

A broadsheet newspaper which refreshes every morning. A Soft Book which lets you load a tome then rifle pages just like the real thing.

Many of the problems that plague present display technology are eliminated: Resolution, viewing angle, backlighting, power requirements. The display has a paper white background and very high contrast.

The best available monitors give you a display resolution of around 100 dpi. Imagine technology that is 150dpi today and could easily scale way way beyond that.

The technology is based on that found in traditional printing: black pigments on a light background.

The display is non volatile meaning that it holds it’s picture without power. This gives ir tremendous appeal in the mobile devices market and indeed, a notable mobile phone manufacturer is already interested in the technology.

Perhaps all these reasons explain why the list of investors in e-Ink is so impressive. $100M raised from companies like Philips, Motorola and Lucent.

Things are certainly going to happen at eInk so keep watching and remember: you heard it here first!